With the Super Bowl a week away, the NFL is pushing a product on fans that no longer holds the same meaning that it did before. They are trying to tell the world that a Pro Bowl game will be played, yet it is devoid of the very best in the NFL has to offer.
Roger Goodell is the commissioner of the league, and his legacy is forever tarnished by some recent moves that has most calling the fascist commissioner a moron. His moving the Pro Bowl a week ahead of the Super Bowl is certainly near the top of his list of moves that has fans, coaches, and players scratching their heads.
Perhaps Goodell should have this game retitled the Consolation Bowl, because not all the best has to offer will play. There will be several Pro Bowl players from the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts not playing so they can avoid injury and prepare for Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010. The fact that 13 players chosen will be forced to skip the event shows that the NFL commissioner has turned the game into a fraudulent sham whose only real purpose is to steal a few more dollars from their fans to put on a game filled with more mediocre players than ever before.
Though critics like to lament how the players, who participate in the Pro Bowl, give little effort because the game means nothing more than a paycheck, the main reason is that the modern player needs more incentive to find their source to draw pride in the abilities from. Gone are the players who used to give a great effort because they wanted to show they were the best by winning this game. Goodell, who has dropped the ball on many moments in his tenure, continues to spit in the eye of tradition here by thinking he has taken the easy way out once again.
Thinking outside of the box of confined thought is something the league should consider. Major League Baseball added an important incentive that has their upper echelon players give full effort, and the NFL should go this same route. The winning conference can earn home field advantage in the Super Bowl, which is what baseball has done to success so far. It makes for a better game for the fans, players, and even sponsors who pour millions of dollars into these games.
The NFL would most likely never consider this idea because they do not want a Super Bowl played in nine feet of snow with winds at 110 miles per hour if the Buffalo Bills reach the Super Bowl a year when the AFC held home field rights by winning the previous Pro Bowl. But that is where Goodell and the league are missing the point.
Giving players incentive to work and play hard in the Pro Bowl can bring out the very best from their All-Stars. The league may fret the fair weathered fan, who brings a family of four or more to a game where ticket prices skyrocket to obscene proportions, will eschew a cold weathered venue. Yet this is a tax free organization who sells luxury boxes in each stadium, licensed seating, and has never had a problem even filling seats in an exhibition game played by free agents and rookies making their last appearance in a uniform during the preseason. The Super Bowl would be sold out even if it was played on an iceberg in the Antarctic.
The NFL likes to use catchphrases like "giving back" and "community." These are phrases, since it is the fans who made the league what it is. A Super Bowl in a city like Buffalo would do wonders for that city's economy. That is the truest way to give back to the community instead of continuing to bite the hands that feed and keep the game alive.
Goodell will choose continue the work of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue by eroding the game and exiling the fans with a "shut up and like it" message. Defense is becoming as extinct as the dodo bird, and exerts about as much flight right now. The only future is the league adopting the moronic college football overtime rule. That's more of Goodell's speed, and is the easy way out that he usually takes. That is, of course, the league avoids another players strike.
Now let us take a look back at my predictions for this season and measure them versus reality.
1. Philadelphia Eagles - This year they are on a mission.
2. New York Giants - They are not easy to stop on the ground attack.
3. Dallas Cowboys - As flawed as that horrid TV at the fifty yard line.
4. Washington Redskins - Mediocre coaches get mediocre results.
*Philadelphia did get in the playoffs, but the Cowboys pulled together in the stretch run to win the division while the Giants faded out of the picture. Washington was where I knew they would be in standings, but played even worse.
1. Minnesota Vikings - Blah, blah, blah Brett. It's all about the trenches.
2. Green Bay Packers - The defense is very good.
3. Chicago Bears - They are a year away...maybe.
4. Detroit Lions - They will win games this year.
* Minnesota ran away with the division as I predicted, while the Packers willed their way into the playoffs. The Bears and Lions stayed where I thought they would be.
1. Carolina Panthers - They like to ground and pound you old school style.
2. New Orleans Saints - If Pierre Thomas runs well, they will do well.
3. Atlanta Falcons - The mirrors used last year will be shattered this year.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - It will take time to get better.
* Carolina has to be one of the biggest disappointments this season, while it was a pleasure to see the Saints unite and excel. Atlanta had their first consecutive winning seasons ever this year, while it appears Tampa Bay will take a long time to be good again.
1. Arizona Cardinals - Warner has one good year left.
2. Saint Louis Rams - They are getting real good in the pits.
3. Seattle Seahawks - The rebuilding stage hits harder next year.
4. San Francisco 49ers - They appear on the right track.
* Arizona won as expected, while the dark horse Rams pick was shattered by injuries on defense early on. The Seahawks continue to rebuild while the 49ers seem to be a few pieces away from winning the West next year.
Philadelphia Eagles over New York Giants - The mission for Jim Johnson continues.
The Giants did not make the playoffs, and the Eagles were run out in their first game
1. New England Patriots - Hopefully Brady plays, yet they proved they win without him.
2. Buffalo Bills - The offense is more explosive than you think.
3. Miami Dolphins - The talent pool is getting deeper each year.
4. New York Jets - Rookie QB's rarely do well at first.
The Patriots won as expected, but the Bills didn't have a quarterback who could get the ball to their weapons. The Dolphins finished where I thought, but Rex Ryan took a Jets team further than most expected.
1. Baltimore Ravens - Lewis inspires his teammates to overachieve again.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers - They will be in it to win it.
3. Cincinnati Bengals - The offense will score, the defense is underrated.
4. Cleveland Browns - The trenches look shaky.
The Bengals won the division, but I was not shocked. The biggest surprise was how well the offensive line did. The Ravens still got in the playoffs, while the Steelers proved that champions have a hard time repeating. The Browns finished where I thought they would be.
1. Houston Texans - The kids are ready this year.
2. Indianapolis Colts - Dungy will be missed in crunch time.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - A few drafts away from coming back.
4. Tennessee Titans - Passing game will not produce, Young finishes the year starting.
* Houston was so up and down this year, they didn't even make the playoffs. Indianapolis just keeps rolling, even after the retirement of Dungy. My Tennessee pick looks brilliant in thought, especially after their horrid start. The way they rebounded shows what an excellent coach Jeff Fischer is. Jacksonville looks like an up and coming team, but needs another good draft like they had last year.
1. San Diego Chargers - The class of the weakest division in football.
2. Oakland Raiders - The collection of talented running backs will win some games.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - Things are improved in some areas, but aging in others.
4. Denver Broncos - The rebuilding process will take awhile.
* San Diego won as expected, but the hot start Denver had shows they may have a pretty good coach. Oakland was an oddity. They destroyed the Eagles yet were creamed by a Redskins team that had a horrible offense. The Chiefs are rebuilding, but there is optimism.
San Diego over Baltimore - San Diego wins this with big plays on defense.
* Neither team made it, though both were in the playoffs.
San Diego over Philadelphia - L.T. runs for 150 yards and two scores.
* L.T. is probably done as an effective running back and Charger.
Offensive MVP : Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia
*Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis : Add another trophy to the mans legendary career.
Defensive MVP : Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina
*Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay : He had perhaps the best year of his fine career.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year : Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia
*Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota : His return ability won him this award, but Baltimore offensive tackle Michael Oher deserved it more.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year : James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis
*Brian Cushing, LB, Houston : Laurinitis was great this year, but Cushing was too.
Coach Of The Year : Gary Kubiak, Houston
*Sean Payton/ Marvin Lewis : Both these men are winning the awards, while some question if Kubiak is the answer in Houston.